With the indictments and unsealed guilty plea of Trump campaign associates on October 30, 2017, special counsel Robert Mueller let President Donald Trump know there's no denying facts. Few have been able to previously achieve such a feat.
Mueller's detailed twelve count indictment against former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his business partner and campaign associate Rick Gates include conspiracy against the United States, money laundering and being unregistered foreign agents. Both men pled not guilty to the charges largely emanating from their work with the pro-Russian Ukrainian government. But It was the guilty plea of George Papadopoulos, a former Trump campaign foreign policy advisor, that has opened the flood gates of information further than anyone expected at this point. Papadopoulos has admitted lying to the FBI. His cooperation with investigators is revealing critical details of the attempts by Russian intelligence services to contact him in an effort to gain influence in the campaign. Potential collusion is on the books.
Who's swamp is being drained now? As a man who has prided himself on being a brilliant businessman and Washington outsider who knows how to get things done, Donald Trump has seemingly failed himself. His choices as a candidate laid the groundwork for a presidency now forever married to the first criminal charges and admission of guilt in the investigation into Russia's meddling in the 2016 election. If he thought he could escape it by firing James Comey, he was wrong.
Donald Trump put together a campaign team who either knew less than he did about presidential politics or whose questionable pasts were well known to anyone who cared to look deeply. He kept his children and son-in-law, Don Jr., Ivanka, Eric and Jared Kushner, closest to him although they had no political experience. Trump chose Corey Lewindowsky, a man who had never worked on a national campaign, as his first campaign manager. Lewindowsky was a short tempered divisive man who fed into Trump's darker side while alienating allies and Trump's children and wrecking havoc with the campaign.
In June 2016, Trump fired Lewindowsky and named Paul Manafort as his new campaign chairman. Paul Manafort, viewed as a veteran Republican strategist, had originally been brought into the campaign in March 2016 to assist with delegate count. Trump saw a wealthy man close to his age who had an apartment in Trump Tower. He seemed to look no further. But they had a past.
Roy Cohen, McCarthy era famed lawyer and Trump's mentor, originally introduced Manafort to Trump in the '70's. Trump was doing business with Manafort's old consulting firm, Black, Manafort, Stone & Kelly. In my blog post written June 30, 2016 "Trump Wears New Clothes", Manafort is described as a man who "has a particular knack for taking autocrats and presenting them as defenders of democracy". Trump knew what he was getting. Until he didn't.
Donald Trump asked for Manafort's resignation in August 2016 after new reports continued to surface about his past work for pro-Russian political elements in Ukraine. Rick Gates had come along for the Trump campaign ride as Manafort's long time business associate. But he continued to work for the campaign after Manafort left and stayed on through Trump's Inauguaration.
Steve Bannon became Trump's third campaign manager/CEO. He had never worked in a national campaign. Breitbart News was his claim to fame along with being a controversial character. None of that seemed to bother Trump.
Donald Trump has continually lauded himself for running an unconventional campaign and now an unconvential presidency. He has taken his love affair with choosing inexperienced people for jobs of political importance to the White House with seemingly little regard for the consequences. Trump has never really left campaign mode, and that now takes on an entirely different light.
The old adage that you're only as good as the people you surround yourself with rings loudly today for President Trump. When poor judgement, bad decisions and recklessness become known as major hallmarks of a winning presidential campaign, something has gone terribly wrong.
Special counsel Mueller's investigation has just begun. The closer he gets to the truth about Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential campaign the louder the calls become for the investigation to end. Let's not forget we have yet to learn all of the facts about Michael Flynn, Roger Stone, Carter Page and the family entanglements of Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump.